Pendjari National Park
The Pendjari National Park, now known as the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, lies in northwestern Benin and was named for the Pendjari River, the only major river in the national park. The Pendjari National Park is adjacent to the Arli National Park just across the border in Burkina Faso. Both national parks are part of the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari) which is one of the largest protected areas in West Africa stretching out into the three countries of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. The rocky cliffs of the Atakora mountain range provide a wonderful backdrop to the Pendjari National Park, and are sparsely wooded with Burkea africana, Detarium microcarpum, Lannea acida, Sterculia setigera and Combretum ghasalense. There is an impressive gallery forest along the Pendjari River within the national park. There are also grassland savannas containing Acacia sieberiana and Mitragyna inermis within the national park.
One of the most interesting national parks in West Africa, the Pendjari National Park is well known for its wildlife, including some of the last populations of African elephant, West African lion, hippopotamus, cape buffalo, Northwest African cheetah and various antelopes in West Africa. There are only a dozen, or less, cheetahs left in this national park. The lion population is nearly 100 and the elephant population is around 900. The population of the park’s cape buffalo is nearly 3,000 and most other big game species also have populations numbering in the thousands, rather the hundreds. Additional species of mammals living in the Pendjari National Par include leopard, olive baboon, spotted hyena, tantalus monkey, side-striped jackal, warthog, African civet, red-flanked duiker, patas monkey, oribi, and common duiker.
The Pendjari National Park is renowned for its wonderful birding opportunities with over 300 different species found in this national park, including Pied-winged Swallow (Hirundo leucosoma), White-crowned Robin-chat (Cossypha albicapillus), Botta’s Wheatear (Oenanthe bottae), African Openbill Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus), Abdim’s Stork (Ciconia abdimii), Familiar Chat (Cercomela familiaris), African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), White-fronted Black-chat (Myrmecocichla albifrons), Mocking Cliff-chat (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris), African Swallow-tailed Kite (Chelictinia riocourii), Common Rock Thrush (Monticola saxitilis), Senegal Eremomela (Eremomela pusilla), European White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), Blackcap Babbler (Turdoides reinwardtii), Pel’s Fishing-owl (Scotopelia peli), Red-winged Pytilia (Pytilia phoenicoptera), Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Black-rumped Waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes), Togo Paradise-whydah (Vidua togoensis) and Bush Petronia (Petronia dentata).
Pendjari National Park – More Information